Beyoncé's halftime show leaves 'em talking
Beyoncé sure knows how to get people talking.
Beyoncé aimed to silence any remaining doubters from the beginning, singing the jazzy opening to "Love on Top" a cappella, before kicking into "Crazy in Love," featuring a recording of her husband, Jay-Z, rapping.
It actually made sense that Jay didn't make a guest appearance, since there wasn't a man anywhere on Beyoncé's stage -- not in her band, not in her dance crew. She drove the "girl-power" point home when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined her for a Destiny's Child reunion that included "Independent Women" followed by a fun take on Beyoncé's solo hit "Single Ladies."
That makes for a powerful statement. However, Beyoncé's full strength may have been sapped by the firestorm created by her version of the national anthem at President Barack Obama's inauguration last month.
She clearly was not lip-synching Sunday night. You could hear her breathing and some of her vocals sounded rough, though, considering her energetic dance moves, no one should fault her for that.
However, unlike Madonna's tightly scripted halftime show last year or the nonstop powerhouses of Prince and Bruce Springsteen in the recent past, Beyoncé's show was a bit loose. She left time to pose, to offer thank yous between songs and even a musical faceoff with her guitar player that fell flat.
It wasn't quite a Super Bowl spectacle. Instead, it just seemed like excerpts from her recent, well-staged concerts that didn't play as well when shrunk to fit into the halftime show.
Beyoncé's lip-synching controversy may have spilled over into Alicia Keys' strong version of the national anthem, with Keys doing an odd ad-lib at the end, seemingly to let everyone know it hadn't been recorded.
Jennifer Hudson's powerful performance of "America the Beautiful" was more straightforward, and considering she was singing with the Sandy Hook Elementary School Chorus, perhaps she will be safe from any excessive scrutiny.
Beyoncé will not be that lucky.